The men’s Final Four is here, with the nation’s top three teams on KenPom plus an unusual Cinderella in UCLA ready to face off Saturday with a national title on the line. Ahead of a big night of hoops, here’s one key stat to know about the four teams still fighting to be the last left standing in the Indianapolis bubble.
Gonzaga: 61% effective field goal percentage
The Zags’ effective field goal percentage this season is a blistering 61%, the best mark by any team in the last 20 years, per KenPom. This Bulldog offense is historically efficient shooting the ball, mostly because of how efficient its guards are around the rim. Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert, Joel Ayayi and Andrew Nembhard all shoot better than 58% on two-point field goals, thanks mostly to Gonzaga’s elite spacing and ball movement. Gonzaga isn’t too bad from three either, shooting 37% from deep this season.
Baylor: Five players who shoot 40% or better from three
If Baylor cuts down the nets in Indianapolis on Monday night, a big reason why will be its wide array of weapons from beyond the arc. All five Bears rotation players with more than than 10 attempts from deep this season shoot over 40% from three, headlined by Davion Mitchell’s blistering 45%. Those five (Mitchell, MaCio Teague, Jared Butler, Adam Flagler and Matthew Mayer) have each made multiple threes in a game at least once in this tournament. When the Bears get hot from the outside, watch out.
Houston: 18 games where it's held opponents under 40% shooting
Houston’s best chance of pulling an upset or two this weekend is its defense. The Cougars have the nation’s best field goal percentage defense, and will need it when they take on the No. 3 efficient offense in the country in Baylor (plus potentially Gonzaga’s top-ranked offense). Baylor is 26–0 when it shoots over 40% from the field and 0–2 when it shoots under 40%. If Houston can keep the Bears below that threshold, it has a very real chance of advancing despite its own shooting struggles.
UCLA: 338th in tempo
A major key for UCLA to have any shot against Gonzaga will be controlling the pace. The Bulldogs, the sixth-fastest team in the country, want to get out in transition. UCLA needs to force this game into the halfcourt and not allow the Zags to run. The Bruins did a relatively good job of keeping the score down against another fast-paced team in Alabama, limiting the Tide to just 65 points in regulation. UCLA needs to play this game in the 60s and hope Johnny Juzang can make enough big shots to keep it in it.
A dazzling night by Aari McDonald vs. UConn has Arizona, in its first-ever trip to the women's Final Four, now playing for a championship. (By Emma Baccellieri)
Gonzaga wouldn't be Gonzaga without Tommy Lloyd, international recruiting extraordinaire and Mark Few's chief lieutenant. (By Greg Bishop)
After Aliyah Boston's last-second attempt rimmed out at the buzzer, she sank to her knees as a Cardinal celebration burst out around her. (By Emma Baccellieri)
MaCio Teague and Mark Vital aren't the stars of Baylor, but they've been as critical as anyone to the Bears' rise to the men's Final Four. (By Jeremy Woo)
Men's college basketball is officially in the Transfer Era—and the trend is only expected to grow from here. (By Ross Dellenger)
Two wins from history, is there anything stopping Gonzaga? (By Kevin Sweeney)
Best Thing We Saw
When Arizona women's basketball earned a spot in this year's NCAA tournament field, it was making its first appearance since since 2005. The program had never been past the Sweet 16, which it last made in 1998. Yet Adia Barnes's team has blown through three "firsts" in the last week—making its first Elite Eight, first Final Four and now first appearance in the national title game after slaying No. 1 seed UConn on Friday night. —Molly Geary
Pick 'Em: Men's Final Four
No. 1 Gonzaga over No. 11 UCLA: UCLA’s magical run comes to an end against a Gonzaga team that is simply too talented and explosive to lose this one.
No. 1 Baylor over No. 2 Houston: Houston will hang in this game on the glass, but Baylor has more shot-makers and a disruptive defender in Davion Mitchell. Advantage Bears.
Aari McDonald will follow up the 26 points she dropped in Friday's Final Four game by eclipsing 30 in the biggest game of her life against Stanford on Sunday.
At the Buzzer
Aliyah Boston's heartbreaking reaction to missing a put-back at the buzzer in the women's Final Four reminded us of the cruel side of March (or in this case, April).